As tensions rise across the US with no signs of protests slowing down, four men were criminally charged on Friday with the destruction of federal property for trying to tear down the statue of Andrew Jackson located in Lafayette Square on Monday, 22 June 2020. The four men charged in the complaint are Lee Michael Cantrell, 47, of Virginia; Connor Matthew Judd, 20, of Washington, DC.; Ryan Lane, 37, of Maryland; and Graham Lloyd, 37, of Maine.
"The United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia will not stand idly by and allow our national monuments to be vandalized and destroyed," said Michael R. Sherwin, Acting US Attorney, in a statement. He added that violent behavior and criminal conduct will not be tolerated.
Attempting To Damage Federal Property
According to the complaint, the four accused, along with other unknown individuals, desecrated and attempted to pull down the statue of the seventh president of the United States at Lafayette Square. The complaint also alleged that Cantrell was caught on camera as he attempted to dismantle the base of the statute with the help of a wooden board and seeking to pull the statue down using a yellow strap.
In the captured video, Judd can be seen attempting to tear down the statute, while Lane is seen attaching a rope and then aiming to topple the structure with its aid. Also alleged in the complaint is that the video evidence shows Lloyd breaking and destroying the wheels of the cannons situated at the bottom of the statue. Lloyd can also be seen pulling the ropes to bring the statue down and handing an unidentified individual a hammer to cause further damage.
Some Accused Yet To Be Apprehended
Judd was arrested on Friday and presented in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on Saturday. The case will however be transferred to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday, and Judd will appear before a judge. The three other individuals charged in the complaint are yet to be apprehended.
Addressing the flagrant disorderly conduct of certain individuals, James A. Dawson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office's Criminal Division, said: "The FBI respects the peaceful exercise of First Amendment rights, but we will not allow opportunists to hijack peaceful protests to incite violence and destruction of property."
Gregory T Monahan, Acting Chief of the United States Park Police, added that law enforcement authorities are committed to ensuring that citizens can exercise their constitutional rights freely in a peaceful and safe fashion. "The deplorable acts of violence and destruction of property are unacceptable and will continue to be pursued through ongoing collaborative investigations and enforcement efforts," he affirmed.